B.N. Morris started building canoes in 1892. Morris produced 4 stock models, with the unimaginative names of Model A, Model B, Model C, and Model D. Models A and B are the most commonly found. Morris had produced over 17,000 canoes when the factory burned down in December of 1919. Following the fire, Morris worked at the Old Town Canoe Company for a short time. The Morris molds are rumored to have survived the fire, and supporting evidence for this can be found in the records of the Kennebec Canoe Company.
- Stem: This is almost a dead giveaway. Morris canoes display a “splayed stem”, 3″ or so in width at the inboard end and made of cedar. The splayed end of the stem has a squared off appearance. The only other manufacturer to use a splayed stem is Rhinelander (whose stem would be of oak or ash and have a rounded, beavertail appearance).
- Deck: Short decks are elegant heart shaped. Long decks are three-piece with a coaming.
- Keels were almost always installed, and will be attached with a screw through every rib.
- The brass stembands were often fastened with rivets rather than screws. On canoes with outside stems, the bands are typically screwed on.
- The ribs will be 3/8″ thick rather than the more common 5/16″.
- The ribs are tapered to about 1-1/8″ wide at the tip, and in closed gunwale canoes, are inserted into mortices in the inwale.
- Serial numbers are found on small brass tags, usually mounted on the stem, sometimes mounted on the inwale just after the deck. The tags often go missing, so look for the tell-tale nail holes where the tag used to be.
Serial Number Format – Morris canoes are numbered sequentially. It is unclear in what year Morris started numbering canoes, or what number he may have started with. Following the 1920 factory fire, a number of surviving Morris canoes were finished at the Old Town factory; these have serial numbers in the 17000s.
Morris Canoe Models:
- Model A – “Model A, is for all-round use, and will be found efficient, safe, staunch and comfortable, principally due to the flat floor, full rounded sides, and remarkable surface bearing. Its dimensions are moderate and pleasing in lines, and from its first appearance on the market up to this day, all users have only the highest appreciation. This model is built with two styles of ends; the Special, or so-called Torpedo ends, and the Standard Ends.” (1919 Catalog)
- Model B – “Model B, which is a later development, has been very much appreciated by those who desire a canoe with greater capacity, for family use. It has been on the market a number of years, with a steady increase in demand. Its lines in general are very pleasing, and its paddling qualities are exceptional, considering its dimensions. It is also a very fine canoe to equip for rowing.” (1919 Catalog)
- Model C – “Model C, carries about the same dimensions as Model A, except that it has less tumble-home and sharper lines for and aft. It is a fairly speedy canoe.” (1919 Catalog)
- Model D – “Model D is a design with more freeboard and less tumble-home. Has quite a flat bottom, and is quite seaworthy. its paddling qualities in quick water are excellent, and it is unequalled as an open sailing canoe. Its principal uses are hunting and cruising.” (1919 Catalog)
- Tuscarora Model – A model designed specially for racing, and is without a doubt a fast canoe. It is built in two lengths, 17 and 18 feet. To obtain lightness it is fitted with light, tough spruce wales, seats, braces and decks. it is also furnished without keel or floor rack, unless ordered (no charge). Other extras can be had to order at regular prices. (1919 Catalog)
Morris Canoe Types:
- Type 1 – Spruce gunwales, mahogany seat frames, braces (thwarts), short decks. Spruce grate (floorboard). Keel.
- Type 2 – Spruce inwales, stained. Mahogany top and outwales. 24” mahogany decks, flag socket, painter ring, mahogany seat frames and braces, spruce grate, keel.
- Type 3 – Same as Type 2, with oak outside stems.